A relationship free of spats, scrapes, and squabbles? That’s a thing of fairy
tales (though we’re willing to bet that even Cinderella and Prince Charming
had their problems).
matrimony — that has its ups and down. And while
it’s certainly not fun to clash with your sweetheart, disagreements don’t
signal the demise of your relationship.
"There are always ways to resolve issues, overcome obstacles, and build a
stronger bond because of it,” says Lori Bizzoco, a relationship expert and
founder of Cupid’s Pulse, a Web site that provides
relationship advice to couples.
more? Each relationship (even the best of the best) has room to grow. But not
everyone can afford to see a professional marriage counselor — and
some marriages simply need a quick tune-up. That’s why we went to top
relationship experts to find out the best ways to resolve disagreements, keep
things fun, and ensure an emotionally health partnership
for the both of you.
your at-home guide to boosting your marriage or long-term partnership (you may
be surprised how well these work!).
1. Fight. It may sound
contradictory, but arguments
between couples can actually be a sign that the relationship still has a good
foundation. "Indifference to each other tells me a marriage is in big trouble,”
says Susan Fletcher, PhD, a psychologist in the Dallas area. "Couples who care
enough to fight still care about each other.” Next time you find yourself in a
war of words with your partner, don’t give up and walk away: Use the
disagreement as a jumping-off point for coming to a resolution — and
then kiss and make up!
2. If you love her, let her
grow. Most people develop and change as they get older
— but according to Bizzoco, this often comes as a surprise to a
spouse. "Often we get so wrapped up in the relationship and think we know
someone so well that we don’t allow them the freedom to be anything more than
the person they were when we met them,” Bizzoco says. But embracing these
changes can be extremely beneficial to a relationship. So if your husband wants
to take up golf or your wife wants to return to school for another degree, encourage
them to follow these interests (your spouse will appreciate the support).
3. Be the A-Team. It may sound
cheesy, but the phrase is an apt term for the "us first” attitude that couples
should have when it comes to their relationship. "This means that they consult,
discuss, and make decisions as a couple and do not put other relationships, children,
or extended family before this primary relationship,” says Karol Ward, LCSW, a
psychotherapist in New York. If you put your partner first, he will feel
cherished and valued — an important emotion for your marriage.
4. Add some oomph to your "Hello!” When you’ve
been separated from your spouse for some time (even if it was just for the work
day), greeting him enthusiastically, rather than just glancing up, can be a
great way to show you care.
"It sounds silly, but think about the feeling that it creates when you give
them just a few moments of attention,” Bizzoco says. Your special greeting can
be anything from a simple hug to a sexy dance move. Coming home will be even
sweeter than before.
5. Don’t forget your manners: Say
It’s easy to get wrapped up in what your partner does wrong — and too
often, we lose sight of what they’re doing right. Every
night, get in the habit of writing down three good things about your spouse
— something nice he did (it really was sweet how he DVR’d
The Notebook for you), a fond memory you have of her
(remember that trip to the Caribbean?), or one of his many good qualities (that
cute butt, of course). "This keeps you feeling more positive toward him, which
will benefit your relationship,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a psychologist
and therapist in Wexford, Pa. And it can benefit you, too: When you’re in the
middle of a knock-down fight, think back to your list to remember the reasons
you’re in the relationship.
6. Get good feedback. Even if your
relationship is as old as the hills, it’s never too late to ask your partner
this one simple question: "How do you know that I love you?” Listen carefully
to the response. If nothing else, Ward says, you’ll discover which of your
actions are the most appreciated and which behaviors to maintain moving forward.
these relationship "musts” — and you may never
need to call up a marriage counselor.